WRITTEN ON June 30th, 2010 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Bacon, Corn, Salads, Side Dish, Vegetables

Growing up, my mom never made us peas.  She was still scarred from her pea-filled youth.

We ate a pretty well rounded diet, and as a result, I grew into a voracious eater, willing to try almost anything, rarely picky.  It’s one of the qualities I find most attractive in other people, because I think it says a lot about a personality in general.  If someone is willing to go out on a limb and try saag paneer or sea urchin or escargot or fiddleheads or sweetbreads, chances are they’re gonna be a lot of fun to be around.  I guess I always equate a good appetite for food with a good appetite for life.

As a kid, I was taken out to eat at an early age.  My uncle is a prominent Baltimore restaurateur, and both of my parents believed it was an important skill to be able to handle yourself in a restaurant, order for yourself, display good manners, and not be intimidated by eating out. At home, my mom cooked all manner of things, pretty much every night.  My good appetite, for food and life, was a learned trait, and it started with my mother.

Every summer, we’d trek from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to climb in the White Mountains. By the time I was 11 I’d climbed Mt. Washington twice, Chocorua once, and lots of other trails and foothills along the way. My grandfather had been a guide at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut near the summit of Mt. Washington, and my mother was a camp counselor at Camp Atahi in New Hampshire for several summers. My brother is currently a NOLS instructor out west, so wanderlust and an adventurous spirit are definitely in the bloodline.  I’ve never hesitated to fling myself off of 30 foot cliffs into a body or water, jump out of an airplane (albeit tandem), take a dip in a 58 degree Maine lake at 8 a.m (great hangover cure, incidentally), or follow a trail just to see where it leads. I’m not an adrenaline junkie by any stretch, but I love being out of doors and trying new things, and I credit (or blame), my mother for this spirit.

That said, there were a few things that Mom categorically would not allow into her house, and as a result I’ve had to discover them on my own. Hard boiled eggs of any kind, for one.  Lima beans.  Tuna casserole (though I’m with her on this one…there is no place in my life for tuna casserole or anything involving warm tuna salad mixed with cheese and pasta.  Shiver me timbers).  Peas.  So it was my own curiosity that led me to create this salad.

The fresh shell peas I found at the farmers market on Sunday sort of screamed for bacon (or maybe that was just me screaming for bacon).  It’s an easy preparation and would be great for your 4th or July BBQ.

Someday I look forward to instilling in my own kids these same values: a healthy appetite, for food and for life.  After all, it runs in the family.

Yes, peas...

Pea, Corn and Bacon Summer Salad (serves 4 as a side)
1 1/2 cups fresh peas, shelled
1 ears corn, shucked
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped, 1 tsp fat reserved
1/4 red onion, diced fine
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup ricotta salata, grated fine
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook corn about 8 minutes.  Remove corn, allow to cool about 10 minutes. In the same water, blanch peas, about 1 minute.  Drain, rinse immediately under cold water.  Shake dry in colander. Cut kernels from corn.  Toss together corn, onion, peas, bacon, bacon fat, a large drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let sit at room temp about 30 minutes. Toss in herbs and cheese, serve and enjoy!

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